Three-Lined Catfish (Glyptothorax Trilineatus)

Three-Lined Catfish (Glyptothorax Trilineatus)

Three-Lined Catfish (Glyptothorax Trilineatus)

Three-Lined Catfish (Glyptothorax Trilineatus)

To write some of these articles about coldwater fishes not readily available to the aquarium industry, I have to visit a lot of different sites in different languages to get the information I need.

I recently found an amazing site for fishes native to China and have discovered dozens of beautiful fish new to me that I want to include on my list of fishes to spotlight.

When I saw this photo of the gorgeous three-lined catfish, I knew I had to write about it this weekend.

I was a little disappointed once I saw that the interesting markings disappear from the adult form, but I decided to try to learn more about this fish anyway.

Not finding much in English, I translated some sites from Chinese. Am I glad I did! I found out some interesting things about this fish’s behavior…including the fact that they climb trees to lay eggs!

They live in swiftly flowing mountain streams in jungles and places with thick tree growth and annual monsoon seasons. At the start of the rainy seasons, these fish start searching for appropriate breeding locations by climbing the trunks of trees in or near the edge of the rising water.

The article claimed that they hang from the trees ‘like peppers’ and people living in the area spread nets under the branches and beat the trees with bamboo sticks to shake the fish loose.

At the height of the monsoon, eggs are laid on the tree branches overhanging the water. It is theorized that this is to prevent them from being washed away by the raging currents.

As the waters subside the eggs hatch and the fry fall from the trees into the water. The adults can climb trees, stones, and the walls of the aquarium due to a wrinkled plate of skin on their bellies that acts as a suction cup, as opposed to being modified fins as in gobies and some loaches.

All members of the genus have this structure. Because of there potential adult size, I would suggest a tank with a minimum length of 120cm/ 4 feet.
Origin: China, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Laos
Size: 25cm/ 10 inches
Temperature: 10-20°C/ 50-65°F


Bloodworms, chopped mollusks, prawn, and shrimp are all taken. Most catfish also adapt readily to sinking pellets.


This fish would be at home in a hillstream tank, particularly if it was set up partially as a terrarium with sturdy plants and think, smooth tree branches added. It does not necessarily need torrent conditions but powerheads should be employed to create current and additional oxygen is needed. The substrate can be a mix of sand, gravel, pebbles, and stones some of which can be emergent. Keep the tank covered!


Lays eggs on tree branches above the water. It would be a fun and challenging project to duplicate the necessary environment and conditions to trigger spawning


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